Kaz Grala’s involvement with Richard Childress Racing should make for an easy transition to a part-time schedule with Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.
When seeking a driver for the No. 16 Chevrolet, Kaulig did not have to go far as their race shop is located on the complex of RCR.
"It honestly was such a natural fit because the last couple of years I’ve driven for RCR in their Xfinity cars," Grala said on MRN’s "NASCAR Live." "Even though you only see me on track, you know, five, six times the last couple years I’m still involved every week…on the simulator and in the competition meetings, even if I’m not racing that weekend. And of course, Kaulig works side-by-side with RCR. We’re in all the same meetings together.
"Even though I’ll be starting fresh with Kaulig Racing, I already feel like I know everybody over there and have worked in-directly with them for a while now. It’ll be great to get to work side-by-side with them in a true sense and hopefully our relationship going into it and the fact that we already know each other will just help us get off the ground that much faster with our communication when we get to the racetrack."
Kaulig is coming off a successful Xfinity Series season that saw Justin Haley and AJ Allmendinger combine for five wins with Haley making the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway. The team also finished 13th in its first Cup start in the Daytona 500 with Haley behind the wheel. With Haley, Allmendinger and Jeb Burton set for the full season in Xfinity in 2021, Kaulig came into the new year with an additional focus on a limited Cup schedule – superspeedways and select road courses – and soon after signed Grala.
"I do know that that we’re going to have several events no matter what," Grala said. "We are still working through the details of exactly where and when and how many.
"I’ve run part-time the last few years. So, I am very appreciative every time I get to go to the racetrack. So, I’m excited to have a handful of opportunities to do that with them and I am absolutely motivated to make that even more opportunities. We’re going to be trying to be at the track in the Cup car as often as we possibly can be."
Over the course of his career, Grala has enjoyed success at Daytona International Speedway where he is the track’s youngest winner in a NASCAR national series with his victory in the 2017 Camping World Truck Series race. Last August, Grala made his Cup debut on the road course at Daytona and finished seventh, subbing for Austin Dillon at RCR.
"For some reason Daytona has been very good to me in the past with the truck win, but even just the Xfinity races I’ve done two there before and had top-five finishes in both of them," Grala said. "And then last year got to make the Cup debut on the road course and had a really great day there too.
"I don’t know what it is about Daytona that seems to work for me, but I’m really hoping whatever it is continues for next month because that would be really, really big for Kaulig Racing, and for myself personally, to be able to make the Daytona 500."